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Cleveland Browns Kevin Stefanski discusses bye week, rematch with Ravens: Transcript

Speaking with reporters on Monday, Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski discussed the fallout from the team's bye week.

CLEVELAND — Speaking with reporters on Monday afternoon, Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski discussed the fallout from the team's bye week and its upcoming rematch vs. the Baltimore Ravens.

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What follows is a full transcript of Stefanski's press conference courtesy of the Cleveland Browns Media Relations department.

On the focus of the Browns’ self-scout during the bye week and takeaways from it:

“It is always a good process. That self-scout, really you do it weekly in some ways, but when you get an opportunity whether it is after the Thursday night game or on your bye week, that is when you really dive into it. Offense, defense and special teams, you dissect it every which way. You look at it from schematic angles. You look at it from personnel angles, play calling and certain decisions we make. You just look at all of it and say, ‘What are we doing? What is working?’ We really pool all of our resources and pool all of that information together. Then you have to sift through it and find out where you can find some action items in terms of where you move going forward.”

On how mentally and physically important the bye week was for the team:

“I think it is probably most indicative based on how the guys worked today. I think they were really engaged. I think they were moving around and flying around the practice field today so I feel like they recharged with their time away from here.”

On the potential to use RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt together on the field to help boost the running and passing game:

“Those are all things we talk about. We want to make sure whatever we do is sound in thinking, sound schematically and those type of things. You are right, those are two great players so we have to make sure that they are involved so that we can be productive in the run game and in the pass game.”

On if there were any specific meetings or takeaways with QB Baker Mayfield during the bye week:

“Nothing specific. Just normal meetings that we have each week and making sure that we are all on the same page. If you go back to last year, it was really streamlining concepts, and we did not have that [2020] offseason. This year with this later bye, it is really about what do we do well and how can we do it better and then what we not doing so well and let’s pivot in a different direction. I think that has been really good conversations in the offensive meeting room, defensive meeting room and special teams really taking stock of what we are good at and then trying to get better at it. I think it was a productive week.”

On if he believes Mayfield will play his best football over the next five games, given Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry’s comment about it last week:

“I think that is the expectation for all of us – coaches and players – of where we are in our season. We all understand what is at stake and those type of things. We are all looking forward to the challenge that we have in each one of these weeks and starting this week versus Baltimore.”

On Mayfield’s health entering the final five weeks of the regular season:

“I think you guys have talked to Baker. We have talked about it. He does have things that he is working through, but he is confident when he is out there that he is playing and giving us a really good chance to win these games. We have fallen short, and we have fallen short as a team. That is kind of how it works. We win as a team. We lose as a team. Moving forward, we are really focusing on what we can do to get better.”

On if he is able to gameplan while watching yesterday’s Ravens-Steelers game on TV:

“You can do some TV scouting. You can. You can see things and make a mental note or send yourself a text message, but I was not watching. I was following it on my phone, though. I got caught up this morning on it.”

On if the Browns can ‘streamline’ the gameplan now similar to what was done after the bye in 2020:

“I think that is fair to say. It is a little bit different just based on where this bye week is in our season, but certainly, yes, in terms of concepts, in terms of scheme and in terms of how we call things, absolutely want to streamline what we are doing really in the run game and pass game.”

On the Browns designating LB Jacob Phillips to return to practice this week:

“Really excited for Jacob to be back out there in uniform and practicing. Those are long ways away when you first get injured, and you are spending time in that training room. Just to see him out there, that is just a great reflection of how hard he has worked. Now in terms of when he is back and when he is ready, we will work through that. Just wanted to put my eyes on him. Had his first practice, watch the tape and see how he is doing, but we will make those determinations over the next few days.”

On LS Charley Hughlett’s status and who would be the long snapper if Hughlett is not available:

“Charley is progressing through the protocol. We will see how he does over the next couple of days. (LB) Mack Wilson (Sr.) is our backup long snapper.”

On Hughlett’s performance with the Browns:

“Charley does a nice job. In that position, oftentimes you are not even sure wo the long snapper is – it is an anonymous position. He does a really nice job for us. He has done it at a high level. He is a leader for this special teams group so we are excited for when he can get back in here.”

On Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s strong performances late in games this season and the Ravens never fully being out of a game due to it:

“He is a great player. You are never going to shut him out. He makes plays. That last drive, they did a nice job of getting in position to score, score and obviously was a great play with that two-point conversion on both sides. With Lamar Jackson, as you know, he is going to make plays, and it is our job to limit them. I think there are some really good things that we can work off of from our last ball game.”

On if he saw opportunities on film to pressure Jackson, given the Steelers recorded seven sacks yesterday:

“I thought Pittsburgh did a nice job. They varied their package up in terms of pressure and coverage. Ultimately, they got him on the ground. Now, he is hard to get on the ground. The first guy oftentimes does not succeed so you really have to be relentless to the football when you are playing Lamar.”

On if WR Anthony Schwartz is out of concussion protocol:

“He did not practice today. He is still working through that.”

On if the Browns will place TE Harrison Bryant on injured reserve:

“I think we will see. I think that is to be determined through this week.”

On if Chubb and Hunt playing together is realistic in the Browns offense and potentially add following the bye week:

“Yeah, I do think it is something you can do in this system and really any system in terms of plugging in those guys. I think we just want to be mindful and intentional about why we are doing and what we are doing. If you do something like that, you want to have a good reason to do it and put those guys in position to succeed.”

On if the Browns were physical enough on offense against the Ravens in Week 12, particularly in the running game, given the physical nature of yesterday’s Ravens-Steelers game:

“I think that is a fair question. Obviously with the amount of plays we had in that game and the flow of the game, we always want to make sure we are giving our runners opportunities. I think we were comfortable with how the game unfolded in that regard. We just were not efficient enough in that run game with our limited amount of carries.”

On if yesterday’s NFL results were discussed in today’s team meeting, given it appears most of the games went how the Browns desired:

“No, I think those guys obviously follow what is going on in our game, but most importantly, it is about us and what we control.”

On preparing for back-to-back games against the Ravens after playing the team two weeks ago and how that potentially changes the planning process heading into this week’s game:

“We really have our game and the Pittsburgh game as new tape, if you will, that we did not have available to us when we were game planning previously. We will certainly stay into our normal rhythm of how we gameplan with that tape at our disposal. We line up in this formation, and they did this. That may lead us to this play or this type. Those are the type of things that we work through. For them on the other side, really they just have our game versus them so there is really not that extra tape. I would say it is probably a little bit more unique on their side.”

On if there is a ‘little bit of a feel of a basketball playoff series’ going against the Ravens in back-to-back games:

“It is a home and home. It is different, but I think the guys are excited about the challenge. You know your division opponents so well, and we have a great amount of respect for them. We are looking forward to this challenge.”

On confidence the team can make necessary adjustments after losing T Jack Conklin:

“Jack is a great player. He is an All-Pro. A great person. We are looking forward to getting our eyes on him when he gets back. He had his surgery, but that is our job as coaches and players. It is the next man up mentality, and then we have to make sure that we design a gameplan with all of our players in mind. That is what we are working hard on right now.”

On how Conklin has been since having surgery:

“Jack is in good spirits. I think he will be out here in another week or so.”

On the Browns using 13 personnel more frequently than other NFL teams and what the team learned about its use of personnel groupings during the self-scout:

“That is exactly how it goes. You look at what you are in and then you look at the efficiency in those personnels and the explosive rate in those personnels. For us with 13, we just feel like we have three good tight ends. We like those guys. Now with Harrison out, we will have to adjust. That is the conversation we are having. Where do you want to go with that? Who do you want to put on the field and how do you want to evolve your gameplan based on who is available to you?”

On evaluating data and how much making a change for change’s sake comes to mind when looking for improved offensive performance following the self-scout:

“That is a good question. I think for us, we need to produce on offense, and very simply, we need to score points. We really do try to look at every avenue, things that we have done and maybe things that we really have not done. You do need to look at all of them, push it in the middle of the table, have that conversation and see what sticks.”

On if G Blake Hance will start at RT with Conklin out:

“I think we will work through all of those types of things this week.”

On if the decision at RT is between Hance and T James Hudson III:
“With all of our guys, we are looking at what gives us the best chance, and certainly at the offensive line, you have to replace a guy like Jack, that is not easy. We are working through all of that.”

On RB Kareem Hunt’s status with the calf and if Hunt practiced today:

“Yeah, he was out there, and he looks good. He is ready to go.”

On if T Jedrick Wills Jr. has more responsibility in protection and needs to play better with Conklin out, given the team may need to help the RT more:

“I think Jed has very high expectations of himself, as do I. He is working very hard. I think he has had some really good moments, but he is working on his craft. To the first part of the question, I just think with your five guys, they have to work together. I think there are certain things you can do to help a tackle or to slide to a guard and those type of things, but ultimately, it is a difficult job that those guys have. We are counting on them, and they know that.”

On confidence Mayfield will play his best football during the final five games of the regular season:

“I just would go back to the team. We have to play better. We have to coach better. We have an opportunity. We have a big challenge right in front of us in Baltimore. The expectations for all of us are high, and that is really where they should be. I know you always want to make it specific to one player, but I just feel like for all of us, this is a big opportunity.”

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